Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.
But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?
A heartfelt story of life, death, friendship and family.
I received a copy of this audiobook from One More Chapter (Harper Collins Audio UK) via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started to listen to this story. Eudora Honeysett is an older woman who is ready to die. The artwork on the cover is so bright and cheerful, so I continued to listen. The story unfolds into a delightfully, gentle, poignant story about finding friendship and family in later life.
Eudora is eccentric, opinionated and sad until she meets a young girl Rose and Stanley, a good-hearted widower and their friends and family. They see something worth saving in Eudora. Eudora’s current life experiences are increasingly positive, but flashback chapters show a life full of betrayal, loss and sacrifice.
Excellent narration makes the characters vibrant, especially Eudora. Her introspection and dialogue are witty, making her memorable.
This is a lovely story with relatable characters and events.
When Bella Black arrives in a sleepy Wiltshire village, it seems like the perfect place for a new start: a lovely home, exciting job and an attractive colleague or two to take her mind off her recent divorce.
When people start disappearing, she realises she holds the key to a mystery bigger than she could have ever imagined.
Who is really pulling the strings at the secretive OAK Institute?
Can anyone be trusted?
Will Bella make the right choices before its too late?
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
Acts of Kindness has vibrant characters and an engaging cosy style of mystery. The chance of a dream job is just what Bella needs, but things are more complex than she thought. Bella undertakes some amateur sleuthing with amusing and sometimes dangerous outcomes.
Eccentric characters and mysterious goings-on make this an amusing escapist read.
Heather Barnett gained a degree in English and French from the University of Leeds and has written ever since: from copywriting to stand-up comedy and sketches. She is now focusing on writing novels. Heather’s influences span Jane Austen and Douglas Adams at one end of the alphabet through to PG Wodehouse at the other.
Heather’s debut novel, Acts of Kindness, is an uplifting, light-hearted mystery. It was inspired by witnessing commuters helping a woman who’d fallen down the stairs at Paddington station; intermingled with wondering what was behind some grand stone gateposts that she used to drive past in Wiltshire.
Her second novel, Lord Seeks Wife, is a romantic comedy and will be published summer 2021.
Aside from writing, Heather’s interests are classic literature, cats and comedy.
Heather is head of marketing at an agency near Oxford and lives by the river Kennet in Berkshire.
Three best friends are going to solve their relationship woes once and for all
Forty-something Jemima’s life is on track – well, sort of. All she has to do is muster the courage to bat her niggly ex away for good.
Twenty-something Meagan is in the midst of her five-phase plan and is nearly ready for phase three – a relationship.
While thirty-something Simi has had more it’s not yous than any I dos.
Deciding it’s time to play the dating game by their own rules, they’re going to ditch the dating apps and ask people out in real life. The catch? They’re playing matchmaker and can only ask out potential dates for each other because the most important rule is that no woman gets left behind.
Comedian Andi Osho’s hilarious and uplifting debut novel features her trademark wit
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I loved the ideas behind this story since I’m old enough to remember dating before dating apps. Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with the characters. So, this story didn’t fulfil its potential. There is plenty that I liked, especially the dynamic between the characters. Their friendship bond is believable and well written. There is also an insightful look at contemporary life which captures its humour, and sadness well.
With enough rooms to fill a Cluedo board several times over, Montague House has often been the subject of rumour and gossip. Tales of strange goings on, an owner who disappeared one day and was never seen again, not to mention the treasure that rumour has it lies at its heart… But now the present owner has died and the house is to be sold. It looks as if the opportunity has come to finally settle the stories once and for all.
Clodagh Wynter doesn’t believe in ghostly goings on and tall tales of secrets. She has her feet very firmly on the ground and, tasked with the job of valuing and cataloguing the house and all its contents, she’s simply looking forward to working in such a glorious setting. And if she happens across a priceless painting, well, that’s just icing on the cake.
Andie Summer is a Finder of Things and desperately needs this job; she’s down to her last few tins of baked beans. So looking for hidden treasure sounds right up her street, even if there was something very fishy about the mysterious Mr Mayfair who hired her. Because it’s just like she said to her faithful Basset Hound, Hamish; I saw something out of the corner of my eye as I was leaving, and you know what that means. It’s never good news when I see something out of the corner of my eye…
As the unlikely pair are thrown together, it soon becomes very clear however that they are not the only ones searching for the treasure. And they’re going to need all their ingenuity, resourcefulness, not to mention chocolate biscuits, if they’re ever going to untangle the web of secrets that surrounds Montague House. One that reaches even further than they ever thought possible...
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A brand new cosy mystery series features Summer and Wynter, two women who develop an unlikely partnership, being very different personalities. The need to solve the mystery of Montague House draws them together and a friendship forms.
This story builds from slow beginnings to an absorbing, humorous and poignant cosy mystery. Character-driven, there is a cast of characters who mislead and finally surrender the secrets of Montague House.
The setting is atmospheric with undercurrents of menace. Animal friends Smoke and Hamish have cameo roles in this murder mystery which add to its authenticity and make it an engaging read.
Detailed characterisation and intricate world-building make this the first step in a promising new series.
After a varied career, Emma Davies once worked for a design studio where she was asked to provide a fun and humorous (and not necessarily true) anecdote for their website. She wrote the following: ‘I am a bestselling novelist currently masquerading as a thirty-something mother of three.’ Well the job in the design studio didn’t work out but she’s now a fifty-something mother of three and is happy to report the rest of her dream came true.
After many years as a finance manager she now writes full time, and is far happier playing with words than numbers. She lives with her husband and three children in rural Shropshire where she writes in all the gaps in between real life.
I received a copy of this book from the author via Helen Richardson PR in return for an honest review.
This story highlights the role of female spies in WW2. Their commitment and courage is something often overlooked, but many died in service of their country. This story parodies a well-known male fictitious spy as he finds himself in an uncomfortable alliance with a female spy who is everything he isn’t, but would like to be.
Lemming’s major contribution to the war effort appears to be working his way through the females who work alongside him until he meets his match in Margaux. She flatters his ego but makes him uneasy. When they meet again, he realises why.
Thrown in an uneasy alliance the unlikely couple travel to occupied France where Margaux shows Lemming what really happens behind enemy lines. Comically, and once you get to know him predictably, Lemming retreats into his vast imagination and rewrites the story covering himself in glory.
The immersive writing style and relatable characters draw the reader into the fictitious world from the start. Good use of sensory imagery brings the history and location vividly to life, so the reader feels they are on the mission too.
Humour and satire underpin this story making it an enjoyable read with characters, events and places that resonate.
Guest author Post – Stephen Clarke – The Spy Who Inspired Me
My new novel The Spy Who Inspired Me is a reaction against the old-fashioned Bond girl. The most Bond-girlish of them all, for me, is the dubiously named Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. In the original novel, she’s the feisty leader of a lesbian criminal gang, one of the key players in a plan to rob West Point. Then she meets 007, decides he’s cute, and suddenly she’s betraying her criminal chums and turning straight. It’s the same with the clairvoyant Solitaire in Live and Let Die – she sleeps with Bond (her first lover), loses her powers and becomes more or less enslaved to him.
The suggestion is that a woman will abandon all her ill-advised feminine foibles as soon as she meets a “real” man. It’s old-school gender nonsense.
This is why for The Spy Who Inspired Me, I decided to reverse the roles. The spy on the cover, Margaux Lynd, is a tough, highly-trained agent with plenty of mission experience. But when she lands in Occupied France in April 1944, she gets saddled with a scared, inexperienced, older male sidekick who just wants to go home to his clean shirts and his limitless supply of handmade cigarettes. The man is modelled on, but – for legal reasons mainly – not named after Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming. My character’s name is Ian Lemming. (You see, nothing at all like “Fleming”.)
The real Fleming was a suave playboy who spent most of the war in a comfortable Admiralty Office, a world away from the harsh everyday realities of spying. Meanwhile, dozens of women were being sent undercover into Occupied Europe. And they were the inspiration for Margaux Lynd. These real-life heroines joined up with the Resistance and acted as radio operators, go-betweens, recruiters and spies. Many were caught by the Gestapo, and then there was no Bond-like banter with their interrogator before a miraculous dash for freedom and a finale in a luxury bed. It was usually a short trip from the torture chamber to the firing squad.
Women agents were valued by the Allies because they exploited Nazi sexism – most Gestapo officers thought that German Frauen existed to breed Aryan babies, and found it hard to believe that a woman would do perilous “male” work like spying. In many ways, that is what Ian Lemming in The Spy Who Inspired Me believes, too. Only gradually does he come to respect, and then fear, the ruthless female secret agent he is forced to work with.
And as the two of them sneak across Occupied France and into Paris, Lemming begins to fantasize about a world in which a suave male spy would lord it over the ladies, while enjoying all the comforts he’s missing from back home – champagne, hot water, a change of underwear. As a reaction to the humiliations and deprivations he’s suffering, we sense that a macho superhero is being created in his head. And while Lemming fantasizes, his female mentor Margaux Lynd has to concentrate on completing her mission – and begging him never to attempt real undercover work ever again.
The Spy Who Inspired Me published on November 12 by pAf Books.
Stephen Clarke is the bestselling author of the Merde series of comedy novels (A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually, Dial M for Merde et al) which have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than a million copies worldwide.
Stephen Clarke has also written several serious-yet-humorous books on Anglo-French history, such as 1000 Years of Annoying the French (a UK number-one bestseller in both hardback and paperback), How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), and The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. He lives in Paris.
Village Affair comes a laugh out loud new Westenbury tale…
As the Yorkshire village of Westenbury mourns the loss of one of their own, the women can’t help but contemplate who will fill the vacancy in one handsome widower’s life…
Grace Stevens has decided it’s time to move on without her husband. He’s off gallivanting around Devon in search of a new life, and good riddance. It’s time to go back to teaching, so Grace returns to Little Acorns and takes on an unruly class of pre-teens.
As she deals with disasters in – and out of – the classroom including an accidental dalliance with her most troublesome pupil’s dad, helping track down a drug ring and keeping up with her closest girlfriends, Grace begins to wonder more and more about the sparkle in David’s eyes and the sparking chemistry between them.
Could Grace be the one to fill this village vacancy?
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A Village Vacancy takes the reader back to the Westenbury for another tale of laughter, love and life. This is a standalone story, but many of the characters previously featured in other books about Westenbury, and you will be intrigued to see what has gone before.
The funeral of one of the village’s enigmatic women introduces the cast of characters. Amanda’s loss is felt both in the community and her personal life. A mystery surrounds her untimely death, which gives this tale of village life an added dimension.
Grace takes centre stage in this story as she copes with her dysfunctional family life and wonders if romantic happiness is within her grasp. Westenbury experiences city problems in this story which are topical and give the story its contemporary edge.
There’s humour, mystery, romance and poignancy in this insightful story which draws the reader into the village and the lives of its inhabitants. The characters are believable and relatable, which makes their stories engaging and memorable.
Julie Houston is the author of THE ONE SAVING GRACE, GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a Kindle top 100 general bestseller and a Kindle #1 bestseller. She is married, with two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate.
To celebrate the publication of A Village Vacancy, I thought it might be a good idea – as well as helpful to readers who have never met her before – to write a little biography of Grace. While all the Midhope/Westenbury novels can be read as total and utter standalones, this, my eighth novel, gives Grace a leading role as well as showing a greater insight into her character, and I wanted to give a little background information to readers who may have never met her before.
So, while my first novel – Goodness, Grace and Me – has Grace playing a major role, the book is essentially Harriet’s story. In this first book, we learn that Grace and Harriet meet on their very first day at grammar school and both become infatuated with a fifth-former, one Amanda Goodners or Little Miss Goodness as Grace dubs her a couple of years later when Amanda is promoted to head girl. The three women meet up again as adults and Grace, staggering from husband Dan’s infidelity, falls for Mandy Henderson’s (as she now is) much younger son, Sebastian.
In the One Saving Grace, while again this is essentially Harriet’s story, Grace is suffering. Unable to conceive a much-longed for child with husband Dan, she is absolutely over the moon when she falls unexpectedly pregnant to Seb Henderson. Unfortunately, Grace suffers severe post-natal depression which renders her unable to look after her son, Jonty properly and destroys the already flimsy relationship with Seb. My intention was to show that Post-natal depression does not discriminate or care who it chooses and can – and does – affect even the most confident, intelligent and outgoing women such as Grace.
I’ve always wanted the reader to have an impression of Grace as a strong, confident and independent woman which she clearly is. While An Off Piste Christmas takes Grace onto the next stage of her life when she becomes the mother of Pietronella who has Down’s Syndrome, all my other Westenbury novels feature Grace only fleetingly where she, together with Harriet, take on much smaller cameo roles.
It was an email from a reader last year asking what was happening to Grace, and could I write a book with her as the main character, that brought about the idea for A Village Vacancy. In this book, published by Aria on October 22nd, I have allowed Grace centre stage. While she might have perhaps previously played a lesser role to Harriet, this one is certainly Grace’s story.
A couple of reviewers have referred to Grace as a maneater who appears happy to discard her husband, Dan when the marriage breaks down once more and Dan moves out. This certainly wasn’t my intention to have Grace viewed as such. Yes, she makes a huge mistake at the start of the book, but this, I want the reader to appreciate, is totally out of character. She tries to argue that she is a strong, independent woman who has the right, on occasion, to please herself as to how she behaves, but deep down she is embarrassed and ashamed as to what she got up to on that night out in Leeds, and I would hate the reader to think of her as naturally promiscuous; she isn’t. Foolhardy, yes, amoral, no.
I wanted to show that the breakdown of two major relationships together with the terrible post-natal depression have combined to leave Grace both vulnerable and desperate for a serious, ‘proper’ relationship for both herself and her two children. If she comes a bit of a cropper in the attempt, I hope the reader will not condemn her but empathise, sympathise even, with what she’s going through. After all, life for many of us isn’t always that straightforward. We are human; we make mistakes.
Luckily, for Grace, there will be a happy ever after.
A big family. A whole lot of secrets. A Christmas to remember…
This year, Lottie is hosting one last big family Christmas at the home she grew up in – just like her Nana would have wanted.
But when her relatives descend on the old manor house, Lottie gets more than she bargained for. Every family has its secrets, but in this family, everybody has one!
So, between cooking a Christmas dinner, keeping tensions at bay and a stray dog out of mischief, she has plenty on her plate and not just misshapen sausage rolls and a frozen turkey. And then her first love shows up – nine years after he walked out of her life.
Can Lottie make their last family Christmas one to remember… for the right reasons?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Book UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
It’s always fun when one of your favourite authors writes a festive book, and this one has laughter, love and life in abundance. Lottie wants to have a perfect family Christmas for her lovely Nana Rose, but the reality isn’t quite as rosy as the dream. Like many families, Lottie’s family has its eccentric members and secrets, but when they all in the same house, its a recipe for mayhem.
Lottie’s inability to cook is one obstacle and the emerging secrets from her family is another, but this makes for a fun read with touches of poignancy and romance that is likely to have you recalling past family Christmases. Every character adds to the story, especially the animals and you are left with a smile on your face when you reach the last page, lovely.
Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. Since then she’s written six best selling romantic comedies and she’s been shortlisted three times for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year Award.
Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She lives in The Midlands, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.
A gorgeously uplifting, romantic read that will warm your heart – take a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where magic happens…
It’s autumn in beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon and Kelsey Anderson is enjoying her new life in her adopted town. Her Shakespearean tour guide days behind her, she’s now opened her own photography studio and loved up with boyfriend Jonathan – even if a long-distance relationship is sometimes lonely.
When best friend Mirren Imrie moves down from Scotland, Kelsey is delighted to have her friend at her side – and as the nights turn colder, Mirren throws herself into dating, until she finds herself growing closer to sexy journalist, Adrian Armadale. But when Mirren uncovers a long-buried scandal while working at the local newspaper, her big scoop might throw Kelsey’s – and Jonathan’s – life upside down. Will she choose her career over her friends’ happiness?
And when Jonathan returns from America and discovers the secrets Mirren has uncovered about his family, it throws his relationship with Kelsey onto shaky ground. Can they find their way back to love, before it becomes the winter of their discontent?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
There is an impressive originality in this romantic story. The setting in Stratford provides a vivid backdrop for this literary romance.
Kelsey is a positive character, who moves forward despite her fears and lack of confidence. Mirren is flawed, but well-motivated and values her friendship with Kelsey. I haven’t read the earlier book, but this reads well as a standalone.
Mystery, romance and scandal are woven into this engaging story, which tests relationships and the protagonists’ morals. The pacing is gentle, there are lots of details and introspection, but this is a lovely story with a festive twist.
Hi, I’m Kiley Dunbar, author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places.
If you’re looking for travel adventures, swoony heroes, and dreamy escapism that will let you forget the world just for a wee while then I’m your author.
Take your pick from my first three novels:
Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (2020), the first in the Port Willow Bay Series, takes you on an impromptu crafting holiday in the Scottish Highlands and reminds us that after the storm comes the rainbow. Crafts, ceilidhs, coral bays and gentle recovery. (Part two coming September 2021 – both parts can be read alone)
Christmas at Frozen Falls (2019) will fly you to snowy, remote Finnish Lapland over Christmas where Sylvie Magnussen is getting a second chance at love with an old flame – sexy Stellan Virtanen – the one who got away – well, he ran away actually, and Sylvie never understood why. Hot kisses in a cold climate, Northern lights and a stunning resort setting. (Standalone novel)
One Summer’s Night (2019) whisks you away on a working staycation in beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon during a sultry heatwave summer. Kelsey Anderson, Shakespeare nerd and aspiring photographer, navigates her new life in a new town. A starting over story, handsome actors, backstage passes, and a whole lot of drama in the Heart of England. (Sequel coming September 2020 – both parts can be read alone)
And if you’ve enjoyed one of my books I’d be thrilled if you left a review! Thanks a million, Love, Kiley, x
I received a copy of this audiobook from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a quirky story about a house and its occupants in the North West of England. The house at number one Curmudgeon Avenue is gossipy, opinionated and snobby. Drawn into a strange world of family drama, romance and secrets, the reader is treated to a unique insight into life within the walls of Curmudgeon Avenue.
The story has lots of characters brought to life by the narrator. Sensual imagery makes listening to this story an inclusive experience, though there are some scenes you wish were described less well.
The humour is plentiful and quintessentially English, I loved it. Irreverence and satire lift the story out of the everyday into something special.
The narration is professional and makes the story an addictive listening experience.
The next book in the series previews at the end of the audiobook and that sounds just as good.
Samantha Henthorn was born in 1970something in Bury, England. She has had short stories and poetry published in magazines. Her books include the Curmudgeon Avenue series (The Terraced House Diaries and The Harold and Edith adventures). ‘1962’, ‘Quirky Tales to Make Your Day’ and ‘Piccalilly’
She has two cats, one dog, one gorgeous grown up daughter and one husband. When not reading or writing, she is listening to heavy metal and would be thrilled to bits if someone read her books.
When Laura’s marriage falls apart she needs to find a home for her and her daughter. And quickly.
Welcome to The Close, a beautiful street of mansions, where Laura rents a tiny studio above a garage, and gorgeous Stella is the indisputable Queen Bee – who soon suspects Laura of having designs on her fiancé.
But when Laura unearths the ghastly secret he is hiding, it threatens Stella’s perfectly curated world as well as Laura’s career.
Hatching an elaborate plan to beat him at his own game, these former enemies are now best friends.
But has Laura forgotten that revenge always comes with a sting in the tail?
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK -Michael Joseph in return for an honest review.
There’s excellent escapism in this story whose characters are just on the right side of stereotypical. Laura finds herself in an upmarket area of London when she needs a bolt hole at the end of her marriage. Finding a nanny annexe in the exclusive close seems serendipitous until she meets the locals.
Think ‘Gossip Girl’ but older and you’ll appreciate the hierarchy among the female residents. Stella ‘Queen Bee’ sees Laura as a rival and sets out to cold-shoulder her from the group. Al Stella’s fiancé is the cause of the discord. Laura is determined to uncover his secrets. This leads to a strange alliance with Stella, as they plot revenge.
This amusing, often satirical observation of ‘The Close’s’ residents is easy to read. The shallowness and lack of self-worth evident, in some of the women, is poignant and adds another layer to this absorbing story.